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Ireland 'didn't fire any shots' in second Test but excited about the future after historic tour

Ireland’s first summer tour in Japan ended in a draw after the hosts rallied to win the second Test.

The Ireland team after their second Test against Japan.
The Ireland team after their second Test against Japan.
Image: Akito Iwamoto/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Greg McWilliams admits that he’s disappointed not to be coming home with back-to-back wins in their tour to Japan, but is excited by the potential his players have shown in the two Test matches.

Ireland concluded their first-ever summer tour with a 29-10 defeat to the host nation in Tokyo, as they struggled to recreate the excellence of their nine-try victory last weekend. They made an encouraging start when Natasja Behan darted over in the corner after three minutes, but Japan gradually took control to run in five tries throughout the contest.

Ireland finished the clash with three tries in total, but struggled to build up much steam in their attack as the series ended in a draw.

“We didn’t fire any shots,” said McWilliams after the game. “We couldn’t get a foothold in the game but there is a bigger picture: we capped nine new players and checked out the depth [in our squad]. Last week, the players were really excellent and it was hard to get back up.

“The players were tired during the week. It’s not an excuse but it’s a really good learning for us. We just have to separate the emotion and the process and realise that there’s lots of very good things. We’ll learn from today. We were ill-disciplined in the first half and we’ll learn from that. Momentum in sport is a funny thing and we struggled to gain any momentum. When we had a little bit, unfortunately it didn’t go our way.

“After winning last week, we wanted to go 2:0 and we came up against a different Japanese side that were very physical. They played at a good pace and the game just went against us.

“If you had told me beforehand that we’d go 1:1 in this summer tour against a side prepping for the World Cup, I probably would have taken it. More importantly, we’ve had an opportunity to develop as a group and get to really know these players. I’m excited about where this programme is going and we have to learn lots of lessons from today.”

Ireland captain Nichola Fryday stressed that while the end result wasn’t the one Ireland was seeking, the lessons they can take in defeat will benefit them in the future. She also reiterated the significance of tours like this to enhance a team’s development.

“They were catching us out with the speed of ball they were playing, and silly errors that we should be able to fix out on the pitch. That’s a learning curve for us as well. We have to be able to react to scenarios that are in front of us. The ref might be in your favour one week and maybe not the next and we have to be able to play the game that’s in front of us.

“It’s frustrating but we’ll take learnings from it.

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“It’s been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. If we look back at the start of this tour, we’ve come on so much and tonight didn’t go our way but there are so many positives. Every girl in that room can be hugely proud of this tour. It was the first women’s tour and we got a win and a loss. I’ve never been prouder to be captain.”

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